Dec 1, 2017

Job Safety Analysis - The Proactive Approach

CCOHS: Celine's job includes filling propane tanks used for backyard barbecues. The task seems simple enough but when the process is broken down into steps, beginning from the time the customer puts their tank down at the filling station to when she hands them the freshly filled tank, it becomes clear that the job involves a number of hazards. Potential exposure to flammable gas, working with gas under pressure, noxious fumes, and back strain from lifting the tanks are just a few. Performing a job safety analysis for each job or process is a proactive approach to workplace health and safety, allowing you to identify hazards and determine the safest way to complete the work or process.

Initial benefits from developing a job safety analysis will become clear in the preparation stage. The analysis process may identify previously undetected hazards and increase the job knowledge of those participating. Safety and health awareness is raised, communication between workers and supervisors is improved, and acceptance of safe work procedures is promoted.

It's up to employers to protect the health and ensure the safety of their employees. This responsibility includes keeping employees informed of workplace hazards and providing the procedures and equipment necessary to protect them. By assessing health and safety risks and developing safety procedures they can eliminate or mitigate these risks before anyone gets harmed.


  1. Select the job to be analyzed

Ideally all jobs should undergo a job safety analysis which should be revised whenever there is change to the process. When selecting the jobs that need to be analyzed first, base your decision on factors such as accident frequency and severity, the potential for severe injury or illness, newly established jobs, modified jobs and infrequently performed jobs. The most critical should be examined first.

  1. Break the job down into a sequence of steps

A job step is defined as a segment of the operation necessary to advance the work. Consider what is done rather than how it's done; for example, putting the propane tank on to the filling scale. Generally, most jobs can be described in less than ten steps. Keep the steps in their correct sequence because any step that is out of order may miss serious potential hazards or introduce hazards which do not actually exist. This step is usually completed through job observation, which should be completed during normal times and operations. Collaboration is important and the worker, supervisor and health and safety representative/committee member should review the analysis to ensure all steps have been identified and in the correct order.

  1. Identify potential hazards

The job hazard identification process is also a collaborative effort of both workers and supervisors. Once the basic steps have been recorded, potential hazards must be identified at each step. Based on observations of the job, knowledge of accident and injury causes, and personal experience, list the things that could go wrong at each step. It's important to get the input of workers who have experience in that job and to consider all categories of hazards – physical, biological, chemical, ergonomic and psychosocial.

  1. Determine the preventative measures

The final stage in a job safety analysis is to determine ways to eliminate or control the hazards that were identified.  This may include changing or modifying processes, improving the environment, or substituting with a less hazardous substance or changing the tools being used. If the hazard can't be eliminated, controls should be investigated to avoid contact or exposure by using enclosures, machine guards, worker booths or other forms of containment. Reviewing work processes and procedures should also be considered. This can involve modifying, or changing steps of the job that may be hazardous, or adding steps to the process.

Lastly, if there are no other possible solutions you can consider methods to reduce exposure to the hazards, such as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). These measures are the least effective and should only be used if no other solutions are possible. You can also reduce the severity of an accident by providing emergency facilities such as eyewash stations.

Discussing and sharing the information

An effective job safety analysis covers all aspects of a specific task. Workers performing the job as well as the supervisor and a representative from the health and safety committee should participate in the development of a comprehensive job safety analysis. Once the analysis is completed, be sure to communicate the results to all workers who are, or will be, performing that job.

Proactive vs reactive

Taking the time upfront to learn about the hazards of a job and address them is one of the best ways to prevent the pain and suffering of work-related injuries and illnesses.


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